A wicked, no-strings one-night stand turns unexpectedly complicated when three lonely hearts collide...
Camille sacrificed romance for success long ago. Now that the lingerie company she and her best friend built is hugely successful, she has a few regrets. Wanting to let down her hair and explore the possibilities, she agrees to meet a man at a bar for drinks only to wind up needing help when she rebuffs his sexual overtures.
Jake and Daniel are two firefighters hitting the bar for a quick drink after a long shift when they see a classy beauty fending off an overzealous boyfriend. With a flex of biceps, they chase him off then settle in to seduce the lovely woman whose eyes reflect a hunger they understand all too well.
What starts as a simple, pleasurable one-night stand, quickly burns up the sheets. While Jake knows he can't let Camille crush their relationship because of age differences, Daniel still thinks he can walk--until he gets a whiff of Camille's best friend Lacey. Suddenly three isn't enough.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Raw Silk by Delilah Devlin
Camille Rutherford watched the pretty, plump woman blow out an exasperated breath and shove lacy camisoles one after another along the metal rack. She thought she might know the woman's problem, and she stepped forward, serene in the knowledge she could guide the customer toward a more daring choice than she might have made for herself.
"May I help you?" she asked gently.
The woman's gaze snapped toward Camille, took in her conservative suit, and then confusion flitted across her soft features. Camille wasn't dressed like any of the sales associates.
Camille gave the woman a warm smile. "Hot Silk's confections are designed with a real woman's body in mind. What will make a runway twig look sexy will do the same for you."
"You work here?"
"I own the store."
The woman blinked once then waved her hands at the rack. "There are too many choices, and I don't have the perfect shape."
From Camille's point of view, the woman's shape was perfectly round. She estimated her size in an instant and pulled a camisole with a figure-hugging bust and waist from the rack. "Everyone needs a little boost of confidence. This cami provides support for a generous bosom and a softly rounded figure. And the pale aqua color will perfectly complement your pretty strawberry blonde hair and pale skin. Would you like to try it on?"
The woman eyed the scrap of silk and Lycra fabric with doubt darkening her gaze. "I have an anniversary date with my husband. I want to surprise him."
Camille gave her a wink and tugged her by the hand toward a stack of silky undies, a more generous cut than a bikini but less fabric than the standard granny-panty fare. She sifted through them until she found a pair to match the cami. "Try these together. I think you'll be pleased."
The woman sucked in a deep breath, straightened her spine and marched toward the dressing rooms at the back of the shop.
"Since when does Hot Silk's CEO roam the storeroom floor?"
Camille glanced over her shoulder to find her best friend Lacey Parish grinning behind her.
"Since the rep from the Atlanta mall said he'd meet me here at five." She checked her watch. "He's late."
"Fashionably so." Lacey wrinkled her nose. "He's a bit of a diva."
"You've met him. What's he like?"
Lacey lifted a finely arched auburn brow. "Besides British and prissy?"
"Yes, I'd like to know a little about him before we head to the conference room to negotiate."
Lacey lifted her shoulders and sighed. "He's good-looking, nicely lean, tall, dark hair, dark mysterious eyes."
Camille snorted. "If you think he's so hot, why aren't you joining us?"
"Because I have a boyfriend and you don't."
She frowned, wishing her friend hadn't made her think about the "S" word. The last thing she needed today was another distraction. "This is strictly business."
Lacey's mouth stretched into wide grin. "Who said you can't mix a little pleasure with your business? Makes a heady cocktail..."
Camille shook her head and gave her friend a reproving smile. Lacey's reckless abandonment was irrepressible. Despite herself, Camille felt a tremor of excitement flutter in her stomach. She began to think, What if...
Lacey's eyes widened. "Don't look now," she whispered. "He's here and as good a candidate as any, girlfriend." Lacey shoved Camille toward the entrance of the store, and then slipped behind a freestanding mirror.
Mentally brushing away the blush that threatened to spill over her cheeks, Camille smoothed her hands down the sides of her skirt and lifted her chin. Then she remembered what Lacey just said. "Candidate for what?" she whispered back crankily.
"To get your freak on, darling."
Camille's face heated as the tall, lanky man approached.
His head tilted, his gaze raked her head to toe. "Miss Rutherford?"
"Camille, please," she said breathlessly, offering her hand.
"Malcolm." His hand closed around hers and trapped it for long seconds that had Camille wondering if this was a British thing or if the man wanted to make her feel ill at ease.
"We've had our eye on you for a long time. It's a pleasure to finally meet you."
Only his pleasure must have been short-lived because he dropped her hand and his gaze swept the storeroom floor. "Your stores are the embodiment of lush sexual freedom and feminine beauty." Malcolm paused and gave her a look down his long, aristocratic nose as though trying to reconcile the rich, sensual colors and textures of the fabrics draped over mannequins and boudoir settees with the woman standing beside him.
Camille felt her spine stiffening, her instinctual reaction to the all-too-familiar comparison. "Yes, we do our best to appeal to the wanton lurking inside every woman," she murmured.
His gaze snagged on one of the sales associates as she floated by, wearing a crimson peignoir.
Maybe she should have heeded Lacey's earlier advice and greeted the man in something sexy, even though she felt ridiculous wearing overtly sensual lingerie. Ironic really, given that her livelihood depended on the belief that every woman's allure could be improved with one of Hot Silk's confections.
Her personal tastes trended toward simple lines and comfort. It wasn't as if she'd had a lover to impress in a very long time, and even when there had been one hanging around, her work hours hadn't allowed her to pamper herself or her image. She'd disappointed more than one man when she'd failed to live up to "Hot Silk" standards.
As it was, Malcolm Neville was the last appointment in a very long day, and all she'd wanted was to introduce herself and hand him off to her next-in-command. Lacey was the figurehead Camille thrust into the limelight whenever investors seeking another franchise to squeeze into a shopping mall needed proof that their product could deliver on its salacious promise. Lacey's willowy figure and auburn hair projected just the right image.
However, Lacey was playing matchmaker. Something she didn't do often because Camille inevitably mucked up the opportunity to "get out there". Sadly, Malcolm didn't seem all that interested. His quick appraisal of her well-tailored navy suit and cream silk blouse had been followed by a quick sniff.
She could almost hear his mind ticking off the many ways she fell short of his expectations. Too old, too plain, not enough boob, over-wide hips--not slutty enough.
Camille knew she came off as cool and remote, but she hadn't gotten where she was by fawning over men like Malcolm. Or by sleeping with them.
But she did know how to turn it on--when it was absolutely necessary. And she wanted what Malcolm came to deliver. Not the sexy liaison Lacey envisioned. All Camille wanted was his signature on the contract and then she could kiss him off.
Past Malcolm's shoulder, Camille spotted Lacey as she stepped out from behind the mirror and pursed her lips to give a silent whistle.
Yeah, Malcolm would appeal to her friend. Camille supposed he would to most women. His dark, nearly black hair was on the longish side and a lock fell artfully over his forehead as though he'd casually raked his hand through it a dozen times that day. His eyes were a steely gray, his face a little long and narrow, but the sharp cut of his jaw and cheekbones went a long way toward stamping his rather beautiful features masculine.
A woman could do worse, she supposed. He did seem like the kind of man who had to be in charge, something she'd forgotten she liked. And the slight British accent he retained despite years living in the South did make him stand out of the crowd.
Plus, and this was the biggest point in his favor, it had been a very, very long time since she'd gone to bed with anything more exciting than a spreadsheet.
Oh, what would it hurt?
Camille stretched her neck from side to side, letting her eyelids drift closed, then gave her head a little shake. She knew the action tousled her chin-length blonde hair and made her gaze look a little unfocused, her expression blurred. More feminine and stupid.
She gave Malcolm a little half smile. "I'm sorry, I'm just a little distracted," she said, softening her tone.
Behind Malcolm, Lacey pressed her lips together and her eyes danced with humor.
Camille narrowed her glance in her direction for a split second, and then turned all her attention back to Malcolm. She could do this. Kill two birds with one stone--get Malcolm's blessing on her proposal and let loose a little. She deserved it, and hadn't she promised herself just last weekend that she'd keep her eyes open for the right opportunity?
Malcolm was imminently suitable--great job, great connections, and a healthy libido, or so Lacey had said after she'd done a little snooping with Malcolm's secretary.
Malcolm's eyes blinked then his gaze slid down her body again, likely reassessing her fuckability. "It has been a long day," he murmured. He'd given her an opening. His sharpening gaze said he might be interested.
Camille opened the button on her jacket and slid her hand just inside the folded collar of her blouse to knead the back of her neck, knowing the lacy underwire bra she wore was doing its job--forcing her not-so-voluptuous breasts against the thin silk. As the cup only served as a "shelf" for her bare breast, her nipple poked against the pale silk, the tip and the soft areola perfectly outlined. "Why don't we talk about it over drinks?"
His nostrils flared, and his mouth stretched into a smile that was suddenly, alarmingly predatory.
Camille dropped her hand. What had she been thinking? She wasn't ready for this, but Malcolm's expression, which had been so bored and "out of here" a minute ago, was now sharply honed and interested.
Camille breathed deeply. She could do this. She could flirt but keep a distance, right? She didn't have to actually bed the man. Thank goodness, they didn't live in the same city or even the same state. They didn't have to cross paths again, unless she wanted to make that happen.
Maybe she could get his signature then drop him like a rock. The thought appealed more than it should have, which meant she really was cranky.
"There's a bar around the corner from here, across from the fire station," she said quickly but injecting a subtle, sexy lisp. Didn't men like women who sounded like little girls? The tiny Austin bar was a pick-up joint. If she was lucky, someone else would catch his lecherous eye.
"Why don't we share a ride?"
And be trapped inside a car with him? No thanks. "You'll need your own wheels, for later." She made sure to drag out the last two words.
If he was miffed she wasn't going to let him stay all night, his prideful swagger as he left said he still thought himself a stud.
"I'm proud of you," Lacey said, striding out from her hiding place. "You really turned it on. I haven't seen you that animated and sexy since we turned our first buyer."
Camille wrinkled her nose. "You make it sound like I prostituted myself."
Lacey snickered. "We were dressed in baby doll nightgowns with our asses hanging out the back," she said, her voice deadpan.
"We had on underwear."
"Thongs. Our ass cheeks showed every time that lecher made us turn to show him how well the short skirts flared." Lacey winked. "So, you gonna do it?"
Camille blew out a deep breath and grimaced. "I don't think so. He's too sure of himself. Thinks he's God's gift to women. I'd hate to stroke his big fat ego."
"Maybe he is God's gift. Did you see his ass?"
"No, I was too busy watching his metrosexual saunter. Where are the real men?"
"Not buying franchises for women's underwear shops," Lacey quipped.
Camille groaned. "I should have handed him off to you."
"And then you'd have headed straight home where you would have stayed on the computer all night, doing whatever the hell it is you do with sales projections. You need a life. We have enough, Camille. You don't have to kill yourself working all hours of the day and night anymore. We don't need Malcolm, although I really think you need to find a playmate."
Camille sighed. What her friend said was true. She'd been giving the subject a lot of thought lately--ever since her sister had come to town for a visit with her small family. "His ass was that nice?"
"Decent." Lace shrugged. "You could do worse. And since he'd have the CEO of Hot Silk in his bed, you know he'd make sure he lived up to your reputation."
They both laughed. Her reputation so far was pure hype.
"If only I'd ever actually earned it. The man's destined for disappointment."
Lacey shook her head. "You have a store filled with confections sure to stop a man's heart."
"But this suit--"
"Will be sexy as hell once you have the right underpinnings. How can a woman not emote sex when she's wearing 'Hot' underwear?"
Camille grinned ruefully. "Oh, you're good."
Lacey's eyes widened in mock innocence. "I never lie. When a woman believes she's sexy, she is. And underwear is the perfect place to build a little confidence."